“I may think in pictures, but first I write everything out in words.” Brian Selznick
Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” – the basis for the Martin Scorsese movie “Hugo” – “introduced an innovative strategy for blending words and images, interweaving narrative and picture sequences to tell two sides of a single story, in which an orphan, living in a Paris train station at the dawn of the 1930s, forges an unlikely friendship with the pioneering French filmmaker Georges Méliès.”
The illustration is from the book, and the quotes above are from the article: ‘Hugo’ author Brian Selznick in a ‘Wonderstruck’ mind-set, by David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic November 24, 2011.
The article continues:
“When I first presented ‘Hugo’ to Scholastic,” Selznick says of his publishing house, “it was going to have one drawing per chapter and be about 100 pages. But the more I thought about the book, the more I thought it might be interesting to try to tell the story like a movie. That’s when I took out some of the text and replaced it with picture sequences.”
By the time he was done replacing text with image, the book had grown to 534 pages; “Wonderstruck” is even longer, although it was constructed in a similar way.
“I may think in pictures,” Selznick acknowledges, “but first I write everything out in words. So with ‘Wonderstruck,’ I started by writing present tense narratives: There is a boy, he lives in Minnesota; there is a girl, she lives in Hoboken, N.J. I knew I was going to tell the story in pictures but I was just getting down the essence of the plot.”
With “Wonderstruck” out and “Hugo” in theaters, Selznick has begun a new book that relies on the interplay of image and word. …
“I didn’t know how ‘Hugo’ would turn out,” he reflects, voice quiet with remembering. “I didn’t know if anyone would read it — it’s a children’s book about French silent movies — but it was the thing I wanted to make.
“I made ‘Wonderstruck’ in the same state of mind. I’ve always liked stories that connect to something larger, where things are heightened in a certain sense. It’s not magic, exactly; I’m not interested in writing stories that have magic in them, but in stories that feel magical, where there are synchronicities and unusual events. They remind us wonderful things do happen, that the world is bigger than we know.”
Video: “Words vs. Pictures” – on how Selznick works. Also see more info on the Scholastic site.
In her article The Visual-Spatial Learner: An Introduction, Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D. of the Gifted Development Center explains, “Visual-spatial learners are individuals who think in pictures rather than in words. They have a different brain organization than auditory-sequential learners.
“They learn better visually than auditorally. They learn all-at-once, and when the light bulb goes on, the learning is permanent. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners who need to see the big picture first before they learn the details.
“They are non-sequential, which means that they do not learn in the step-by-step manner in which most teachers teach. They arrive at correct solutions without taking steps, so “show your work” may be impossible for them. They may have difficulty with easy tasks, but show amazing ability with difficult, complex tasks.”
Her related book: Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner.
The Amazon summary of the book says:
“Do you think in pictures rather than in words? If so, you are not alone. One-third of the population thinks in images… Dr. Linda Silverman coined the term “visual-spatial learner” in 1981 to describe the unique gifts of people who think in images. They get the big picture because they see the world through artists’ eyes… A visual-spatial learner created the computer and the Internet, the vivid displays at the Olympics, and the International Space Station.”
Another creator who combines artwork and text – above is an example from her site – is Marney Makridakis, founder of Artella Land, an online creativity community for “inspiring artists, writers, and creative spirits, and supporting them in following their dreams…catalyzing unawakened creative inklings and inspirations to come alive and passionately thrive.”
Marney says, “I wrote and illustrated my first full-length story, ‘Lov is Flafey and Spots’ when I was five years old. I continued to write throughout my life but I didn’t really do any art again until I was in my mid-twenties, when I learned that art and crafts were excellent conduits for emotional healing.
“I was naturally attracted to paper arts and simple watercolor paintings, and once I began combining words and art together as an art form, I was in heaven. I found the process of making words visual, and making art narrative, to be a very liberating and dynamic form of artistic expression.”
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